EDIT: This is in no way saying to become a permissive parent that never says no and allows your kid free reign in life. I am merely saying that as a parent, it is ok to release the choke hold on the power and allow a tiny bit of wiggle room.
I want you to think about your little ones for a second. If they are under 4, I want you to think about how long ago it was they started speaking in enough words to carry on a conversation. I want you to think long and hard about haw much they truly understand about life, language, custom, sarcasm, and anything else you can understand fully. It's not a lot is it? Think about how much of their own lives and thoughts they are in control of, in some households the answer is NOTHING. That's right, even though these kids are their own person with their own feelings and thoughts, they are allowed to have control over nothing. Not their clothes, not their shoes, not their food, not anything...and parents wonder why a kid throws a tantrum or says, NO! to a demand. Think about it... they have only a very basic grasp of the language around them, very primitive mind and skills and no impulse control to boot. So, when you add up all of that and this "big mean authoritarian" parent that takes all of the control away from them and doesn't allow them any, you get meltdowns and defiant behavior. Especially if you are of the "I said, NO, I am the boss and you must cower down with a yes ma'am always or risk a spanking." type parent.
If you are this type of parent, I encourage you to try another more "Peaceful and Gentle" style of parenting for a week or two and see where it leads. Calm down, allow them some control and choices, speak slowly and softly, don't demand, and instead discuss why and how, treat them with respect and as human beings with their own opinion, thoughts and mind...not as a submissive and obedient kid with no rights or thoughts. Stop spanking as the first and ONLY resort for behaviors. If you feel you must use spanking as a discipline, save it for true life and death emergencies, not for normal acts of defiance that are NATURAL for little ones. Start learning ways to speak to your child so that there is never an issue to need to correct. If you commit to understanding your child and getting on their level to speak to them, you will soon see that all of the discipline comes beforehand, not after. There will be almost no need to punish a little kid if you choose the route of honor and respect.
The Authoritarian parenting doesn't teach them discipline and honor and respect, it teaches them that they have to bow down to this parent or risk getting in trouble. They don't learn to respect the parent, but, rather fear and bitterness. This type of parenting also doesn't help them learn to control their anger and tantrums, nor would it encourage a child that small to mind willingly. This type further frustrates and already frustrated kid. they know they have no control or say in their lives and that their parents don't respect them at all and that if you don't like what somebody is doing, throw a fit or hit them and that should work.
I hope if we have someone that makes the switch, they will please write us an e-mail and let us know how it went. Or if you made the switch long ago, we can here from you as well.